Interview with Josh Cohen & Ryan Scully of The Morning 40 Federation

Apologies for the long layoff...

This interview was done very late at night on Oct 24, 2014 at Alex Mcmurray's house.  

The Morning 40 Federation are a band that has great resonance with a certain swath of New Orleans locals who see in them the embodiment of a certain set of life experiences that very definitely were in fast effect at one time in New Orleans and in a long gone era of a certain way that Bywater used to look.  The reflections from that are still reverberating strongly and the mighty 40s continue on once in a while.  As we find out here, they are still writing.

Ryan Scully is a fascinating music writer that I've been trying to catch up with for an interview since the 90s.  Currently he is also fronting another interesting band, Scully and the Rough 7.

Josh Cohen is a saxophone player and writer for the 40s as well as being crafty in some other areas and, really quite philosophical.  

These folks have amazing insight into the old problem of the correspondence between life and music and of the folks I have interviewed, say some of the most unexpectedly profound things on the subject.

Alex Mcmurray is often involved in what sometimes becomes a quite multi-layered discussion.

Part 1

how the 40s met; starting to write songs; experience of New Orleans; relationship between origins and musical content; Irving Berlin; the Rough 7 and backup singers; The beginning of the Morning 40 Federation; the first 40s tour and delusions of grandeur;  the Attack Family; the concept behind the 40s; what was appealing to Scully about the band; I Aint Really Alright; subconscious access to material; dangers of becoming formulaic; Scully’s function; traditional music as a binding factor

Part 2

Listening to Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly; earliest music appreciations; the way ideas move through the 40s; song rejection; mcmurray talks of songs with the 40s; mother-in-law; how the music makes people react; Ebola? (too soon?); lifestyle descriptions in the songs; Morning 40 style; Funkadelic; the olfactory sense; discovering Nirvana and liberation by record store; Josh and binaural beats; Scully’s other material outside the 40s; whether the band broke up because of problems between Scully and Josh; how members have come in and out of the band; financing of recordings; how the music has changed over the years; songs about age; prog rock math rock vs. minimal type etceteras; josh expresses himself.







Interview with Jimmy James of King James and the Special Men

       James is a fascinating musician with one of the greatest neighborhood regular gigs around: Mondays at BJ's.  That band plays great R'n'B music from all across the time span.  The band does not come off like a museum piece at all but does give the feeling that you are outside time in another blues world.  Get right to the interview here...

king james.jpg

       As Jimmy explains here the driver of that is a comfortability and fascination with all kinds of music since he was four years old.   And "all kinds of music" is really what it means- Chinese Opera to Muddy Waters, Kurdish music to Kiss.  He sees connections everywhere but really seeks to communicate with people and be in line with the sort of energy that will give them what they need on their night out.

    Jimmy plays saxophone, bass, piano, guitar, piano and has a natural feel on each.  How does this happen?  Check out this interview with a musician who is currently picking up pace in the local scene and, probably has a lot to say to it. 



      Part 1  -Origins; how he came to be in New Orleans; must have a guitar; KISS; Band of Gypsies, Tutti-Frutti (first record), and acquiring a 45 collection; getting into the blues; symphony work; simultaneous punk phase; getting to bass; Nervous Dwayne; Augie Jr blues band; Carl Le Blanc; Sun Ra; Sheik Rasheed; Kidd Jordan; The Photon band; life happens!; Jesse Mae Hemphill; coming to The Special Men; Junior Kimbrough; blues songwriting and knowledge of the terminologies and meanings


      Part 2  How the special men started; moving to Alabama; Jesse Mae Hemphill; difference in solo expression from group; fat possum; original material; John Rodley; Tuba Fats; Palmetto Bug Stompers; music development; the Rainbow Fanny Pack; Bruce Brackman; Robert Snow; choosing BJ's; quitting the piano; trance music; starting a new Mardi Gras Krewe; doom; meditation metal; heading to Lincoln Center; thoughts on change; Tim Green; moving forward with The Special Men; deal with Domino Records; recording at The Parlor; gig merchandising; is the hard copy worth anything?

     The interview, in line with the rest on this site, is informal but informative.  You will hear the sounds of BJ's day shift in the background as well as words from harmonica player Bobby Lewis. 

Interview with guitarist and composer, Tim Robertson

Tim is an interesting figure in the New Orleans music vista.  He plays Bourbon St.  He is a survivor of that commercial zone and knows how to do it (or has the personality for it) in a way that doesn't limit him and has driven him plain crazy.  Many have been driven in such a direction.

Many people ask questions about validities and viabilities involved in music on Bourbon St.  Tim, from first hand experience over lot of years, engages these questions:-

What is Bourbon St.?  How does that music zone operate differently and similarly to other parts of town?  What are it's musical features and modes of development?  Is there anything really good out there? 

There is much more, however, to Tim and to this interview.  Tim is an avid experimental/modern/"classical" composer and has moved himself through in-depth, mentored, study in that direction too.  For those who may wonder what the relevance of Bourbon St. and "classical" music is to New Orleans music and whether he can really talk about it, there is more. He also plays guitar with Neslort (if you don't know then be sure to go), Amanda Shaw, and two very interesting comico-satirical-serious groups that started quite a while ago and feature a very biting and immediate viewpoint voiced by Robertson: Dirty Mouth and Hot Karl.

Enjoy the interview- there is a lot given.

The interview was conducted, 5/1/12, at the orange couch in New Orleans.


Part 1- Tim Green; Bourbon St. audiences; real bands as opposed to collections of players; how much playing time does he spend on Bourbon St?; how's the money?; how the material is selected and arranged; Tim's most important features of a good drummer; Tim's background and why he's in New Orleans; Mark Diflorio; John Bagnato; a cerebral player; at Duke University and dropping sports for music; fascination with music theory; Haydn scores, symmetry and structure; revisiting music from childhood.

Part 2- David Bowie; how he started on guitar; the appeal of volume and speed; questions about Metal and the makeup of heaviness; Black Sabbath; Django's influence on Tony Island; King Thunder and the emergence of Hot Karl; Benji's Kosick unique approach; Captain Beefheart; Hot Karl's impact on Tim's approach; the subtleties of time in rock music; evolutionary psychology

Part 3- More on Hot Karl; satire at Checkpoint Charlie's on Monday nights; not taking himself seriously and coming up against the limits of musicians' sense of humor; Dirty Mouth; Chameleon theater and big band; Dave Stover; Dave Sobel; David James; starting point: "everybody fuck off"; the release of Dirty Mouth; Rob Wagner; ideas for the Morning 40 Federation; "Bourbon St. is all in your head"; studying composition privately and what lead to that; obsession with 12 tone music and serialism; finding the teacher; strictness about good notation practice and its advantages; ridiculing the trumpet; a Mike Darby aside

Part 4- Uses of composition training in Tim's everyday work; Tim's harmonic language; how he appropriates work from scores; getting in to Amanda Shaw's band; fitting into Bourbon St. schedule and Neslort schedule; fitting well with the idiosyncracies of Rick Trolsen's music; "I have my own ideas about rhythm!"; "I never count in my brain higher than 3!"; Das Rhinegold; things that are coming up-Dirty Mouth, Trio; arguing on stage; Alex Mcmurray in a mini cooper; interviewer-->interviewee switcheroo; looking for financial independence to continue working on music development

Interview with Dan Oestreicher, currently with Trombone Shorty but also, saxophonist at large

Dan Oestreicher first hit the radar for this writer when he presented himself at a Naked Orchestra show at the Mermaid lounge and made clear that he should be playing with the group.  He did that for the rest of that evening and for a long time afterward.  

He played with many of the most forward thinking New Orleans musicians and frequently he is there right when they are looking the most forward.  This includes the The Other Planets, The Magnetic Ear, 3 now 4, James Singleton, Irvin Mayfield's New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Roger Lewis's Baritone quintet (where Dan is playing Bass sax instead of his more heard, Bari sax,) The Naked Orchestra, The Jonathan Freilich group, his own group- The Diesel Combustion Orchestra, and more.  He is seen playing some tuba and really tends to go very deep when he is exploring anything, but especially music.  He also knows a good deal about saxophone lore and trade as well as the other end of the spectrum, analog synthesis.

As he is in Trombone Shorty's band, touring constantly, he is in a unique position to discuss the current meanings and associations in the idea of New Orleans music (if there is really such a thing at all) and improvisation. His perspectives are well informed and if nothing at all show a blazing mind for inquiry and a fearless and healthy statement of opinion.  He could go anywhere from here.  If you were into horse racing you might see him listed in the racing form as one to watch.  


...Look to the end for heated debate.


The Interview (5/2/12)

Part 1-What Dan is up to now; the Roger Lewis baritone sax quartet+ bass sax; Roger, Tony, tim green, calvin johnson, shannon powell; jazzfest as a showcase for acts that aren’t playing around very much; “the guardians of the vault”; playing with Trombone Shorty and the perception of New Orleans in the world; ponderings about why Trombone Shorty is the current poster child for New Orleans music; the limitations of the idea of New Orleans music; bandleader, Trombone Shorty; Dan’s other musical lives in the past; New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and peoples’ perception of that in relation to the New Orleans music categorization; more on the liberations and restraints of being identified as a New Orleans musician; jazz in academia; musical priorities; the position of precise execution in the New Orleans instrument player’s aesthetic; brass bands and depth of rehearsal- Hot 8 Brass Band; Soul Rebels Brass Band.

Part 2- How Dan ended up in the Naked Orchestra; militant attitude towards certain music for growth; growing out of the results of mistaken assumptions; limited paradigms in jazz education; freedoms and an agenda unveiled in New York; Tony Dagradi and further doors opening with James Singleton's band; discussion of ideas for another approach to music education; The Other Planets and the "confluence of the downwardly mobile"; what is going on with "trad" in New Orleans in in the current scene; Anthony Braxton's 3 types of people that have to exist in music; "trad" musicians as an insular, isolated community; why is trad being chosen as the form of expression?; local economics of "trad"; the "trad" scene dissolution and what is coming in to replace it; the look of the Frenchmen scene; how Dan markets himself; how Dan became interested in traditional jazz at all.

Part 3- Changes in the current New Orleans music scene that are caused by economic changes; rehearsals instead of pick-up bands; trad and revisiting Aurora Nealand's (see her interview) discussion of gender role solidification; heated debating over the preceding issues; music becoming populist and away from the seperatism of bebop- more heated debate!; "in 2012 to be poulist is to be subversive!"; the central features of the expression of the Trombone Shorty band; egalitarianism in New Orleans brass band music; what Dan is working on now; Chazfest and the continuance of post-katrina community survival mechanisms; the constant influx of creative people to the city; search and restore.

Conversation with Dave Capello- drums, poetry, analysis, excitement

Helen Gillet(Cello); Dave Capello(drums)I first met Dave Capello through Bill Milkowski.  I remember Bill shouting out somewhere on Frenchmen St in the early 90's that I really needed to play with Dave.  I'm glad that happened.  I loved playing with Dave from minute one.  It just made sense to me.  He didn't waste time, behind the drums, trying to prove anything so you could more quickly move toward the possibilities of developing something organic.  Before he came to New Orleans, he had been the drummer for the Bern Nix Trio through Theater for the New City.  I was fascinated with that too because I was (and still am) under the spell of Prime Time (Ornette Coleman's electric band.) I was fascinated to try to talk about that in those days but Dave was really more intrigued with the New Orleans scene around him.  

The earlier interview on this blog with saxophonist, Tim Green gives a rare look at the background behind the ideas and experiences that make up some of the forces in Tim's playing.  Here is another very rare piece and, like the interview with Tim, much can be learned about Dave's music and the worlds it comes out of without being familiar with his work.

Some of the best work I've heard him on lately is trombonist Jeff Albert's records.  Check those out at Jeff's site

In this conversation, Capello brings up a whole lot of his experiences from radical cultural scenes in New York and Kansas City.  Some have been scantily documented and Dave sheds some light on that, particularly the goings on in New York's lower East Side around free, conscious, creative music. 

Part 1- Bill Milkowski; the Kansas City jazz scene when Dave was growing up there; the influence of his Father and his jazz records; Bird at St. Nick's; Roy Haynes; how he came to the drums and his first teachers; learning timpani; "bar-b-q jazz"; wrestling with technique; getting into writing early on and the decision to not specialize; writing poetry and analysis and history; interest in drama; leaving Kansas City and why; going to Northwestern

Part 2- Leaving "Heavenston;" going back to Kansas City and landing his first regular gig at a colorful bar; playing jazz in KC; Pat Metheny; playing jazz and the features of Kansas City jazz styles as that time; swinging and schmaltzy as an aesthetic; going to Evergreen in Olympia, Washington; playing at the Rennaissance Fair in Eugene, OR with the Flying Karamazov Brothers, Rev Chumley etc.; Tommy and the Snakes and other experiences in country music; back to Kansas City and then being drawn to New York in the late 70's by friend at Parsons; the New York scene- at Hurrah's, James Chance, James White and the Blacks; No Wave; getting into the publishing business and then writing through that; going to Hunter; meeting Bern Nix and the Theater for the New City; Crystal Field; William Parker joins to make the Bern Nix trio; the aesthetics that were, how they came to be that way, and how they became so misunderstood; not wanting to be bourgeois in New York.

Part 3- Bill Milkowski; New York going broke and the effects on the New York art scene; cultural wars; the evolution of the Knitting Facory and incidental exploitation; Zane Massey; polarization along class, race, and sex lines; being chased out of New York by the rising rents, along with a lot of music venues; working at Simon & Schuster and stumbling into market analysis; ending up being a part of the problem and having to work out a way out of that; the change in jazz from originality to conformity; reactionary politics working its way into jazz; changing role of the artist in society; the hideous ways of denigrating the artist and various negative reassociations; problems with cliques in New York; coming to New Orleans and the comparative fluidity of the scene; being a New York exile.

Part 4- what happened when he got to New Orleans; falling into what he was trying to get away from; on the other hand...; punkfunk scene dying in New York and the reasons; getting into New Orleans and the beat and syncopation; hitting some hard times in New Orleans and leaving for a while- Ithaca; problems with the music press in New Orleans-suppressing innovation; insoucience; desire to push the limits; studying with Andrew Cyrille; more jazz pondering; the failure of imagination; bitter-sweet New Orleans; separating marketing from music; inspiring ideals embodied in jazz; where he is going now.



JEFF TREFFINGER- guitarist, architect, songwriter, club owner, recording engineer, record producer

Jeff Treffinger(left), Alex Mcmurray(right)Some people provide support.  Jeff Treffinger is that sort of person, whether as proprietor and music booker at the legendary Mermaid Lounge, or as record producer, or as musician in groups such as the Geraniums and Tribe Nunzio.  Perhaps he learned support from studies in architecture or, his interest in architecture came from a fundamentally supportive facet in his personality.  

There is a book by underground icon, Eugene Chadbourne, that so hits the nail on the head about certain pieces of real musical life in bars, that I won't even lend the book out.  It has acquired a cult status on my own personal bookshelf.  The title of the book is "I hate the man who runs this bar- The Survival Guide For Real Musicians" It's so correct in every way except that The Mermaid Lounge defied the pictures laid out in that book.  We loved the men who ran that bar and their contribution and Jeff was one of them.  There are many things that go on in the local music scene today that would not be, if it hadn't have been for the initial allowances of their mad "experiments" at the Mermaid. ("Courting" might be better word here than "allowance")  Jeff was one of the bar owners, but he did a great deal more around there too.

At any rate, in this near two hour interview with Jeff, he talks about his foregound and background activities that at different times have shaped the New Orleans music scene.  And this is not the only direction life has taken him.  Here Treffinger, founding member of Tribe Nunzio, describes how he came to be putting a band together in New Orleans at all and, what his purposes were in doing so...or at least his thinking at the time.  He tells stories about the accidental discoveries that led him to architecture and how that led him into certain nooks in New Orleans music.  He is frank about what he learned and how, and the interesting folks that he collaborates with or has dealt with over the years that have enabled his dealings to be loaded with a delightful, risky creativity.  


The Interview

Part 1- Early background in New Jersey; the impact of the Beatles; the guitar; starting in bands and dreams; realities on the Jersey shore; the influence and protection of the older, tougher, musicians he got around early on-discipline, rehearsal, the intellectual component; how Treffinger came to be in New Orleans in 1977 and the allure of the city; fateful snowstorm, achitect of the architect; 1978 to Tulane; meeting Dwight Davis, flautist/Tenor sax; panhandling in the French Quarter; moving away from rock to Chick Corea, Jaco Pastorius, etc; learning further interesting things about Dwight Davis.

Part 2- writing in the early 70's; influential teachers; chord progressions becoming important; what was noticeable about New Orleans music when Treffinger showed up; Astral Project, Tyler's, and James Singleton; the formation of Tribe Nunzio and Cafe Brasil; Nick Sanzenbach; getting The Beaux Arts Ball gig; what kind of songs were being played and its exciting features; the religion of Holden Miller; Jeff's comfort with not being the front man; what it was like getting gigs then; The Economy and meeting Brendan Gallagher, Pat Cronin; Ade Salgado (pre-Cafe Brasil); "Frenchmen St needs some fucking daylight;" Cafe Brasil starts selling booze.

Part 3- the fate of the Economy; more on Brendan Gallagher and his writing; the quick story of the rise and fall of Tribe nunzio, a little on Joe Cabral before The Iguanas; how The Mermaid Lounge started (Nov.1994); meeting 3 or 4 people that can make 10 or 12 bands; the sorts of forces that can create a Mermaid Lounge and why that model isn't around anymore; the Mermaid Lounge calendar- "low brow and high end"; how the Mermaid recording studio came about; Clint's ingenuity; about the ending of the Mermaid and the end of a number of clubs with a certain booking ethic; more on Pat Cronin.

Part 4- How The Geraniums formed; getting others to record their songs; meeting and working with Glen Styler; Alex Mcmurray in The Geraniums; what Jeff is currently up to- writing, upcoming records he's producing, the family album; the changes that Jeff sees in New Orleans since he showed up in the 70's; what happened to older people going to shows too?; succumbing to convention; changes in the art world.  

Interview with saxophonist, Tim Green

Tim Green is one of the most interesting saxophonists that you can hear in New Orleans.  Occasionally he travels but most of his career has been within the city.  Over the years he has played with many of the greats that people associate most with the city- Walter "Wolfman" Washington, Irma Thomas, Cyrille Neville, Mem Shannon and many legendary others.  

His affection goes out most to original, creative, music projects.  He is interested in so much music and has brought himself to a place where he can insert very creative ideas in almost any context without breaing the balance or excitement.  He was a large figure in many explorational bands from, Gulfstream and the Stick Band in the 80's, to Michael Ray, Naked On The Floor, and James Singleton, Dennis Gonzalez, and others like Fred Wesley in the 90's.  

Tim has a very deep linguistic or conversationalist playing style that really has its best place on stages for live audiences.  Where the musical "moment" happens is where he strives to be and his best work is there.  For that reason, you won't find records under his name.  His genius and where it resides really emerge in this relaxed, and probably pretty rare, interview. 

Part 1- start in music; intense musical awareness starting at age 4; growing up in Connecticut; starting an "underground" radio station; meeting many greats; start on soprano saxophone; hearing and meeting established greats in new York and Boston-McCoy Tyner, Mingus, George Adams, Stan Getz, Blue Oyster Cult, Earth, Wind and Fire, Tower of Power; early interest in 'Ethnic' music and friendships with musicians in other communities around Bridgport; meeting Grover Washington Jr and advice given.

Part 2- Musicians' awareness of the importance of heir own work; when the decision to come to New Orleans was made; the pain associated with learning an instrument and the desire and drive to get past that; beginnings in playing music with others; desire for formal studies and starting at Berklee, 1978; problems with Berklee; meeting the 'passport' to New Orleans; serendipitous winning of trophy at the St. Patrick's Day parade in the French Quarter; deep lessons for a negligent saxophone teacher.

Part 3- what music was being played in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in the late 70's; picking up first work in New Orleans; pressure to take up tenor and playing with Irma Thomas; when his career direction started to emerge; Gulfstream, The Stick Band and work in other little groups; Kalaamu Ya Salaam suggests Tim to Ellis Marsalis; comparisons between past and present audiences and the acceptance of original music; car and piano restoration, the value of self-reliance.

Part 4- moving into playing with Naked On The Floor, James Singleton, Michael Ray and groups that were most compatible with the culmination of Tim's development; how you got gigs in the old days; difficulties in presenting creative music now; being on the same path as when his music life began; dalliances with the music business and conflict of ideas; playing with Anders Osborne and being able to convince him that a live recording was the way to go; sessions with Daniel Lanois; revisiting his line of development through YouTube.

Hart Mcnee, flautist/ bari saxist/ artist interviewed by film-maker Henry Griffin

Hart Mcnee was a very interesting local musical figure.  He died a couple of years ago but while alive he left quite a mark on all of us, friends, family or musical comrades.  He was from Chicago originally but he had moved at a fairly young age to San Francisco. Initially he was staying with his friend, the iconic guitarist Mike Bloomfield (an early hero of this site's author.)  Hart played all over the San Francisco blues scene primarily on baritone sax but especially known was his stint with Boz Scaggs.  He was also with Albert Collins, Otis Rush who he recorded with and others.  He had come from Chicago and knew many key bluesmen.  He was even driving Magic Sam home for a while.  His prime instrument for his own expression was flute and he will be remembered by all of us New Orleans friends as hugging that singularly marked bass flute.  

Hart was a close friend and I wish that I had gotten to interview him but this may be even better.  Here another really close friend, the film-maker, actor, and screenwriter Henry Griffin got a really vibrant interview with Hart not long before he died.  This interview was conducted May 8, 2006.

I'll never forget hearing his flute sound coming out of Cafe Istanbul on Frenchmen St early in the 90's.  A lot filtering through the doorways that particular summer was unremarkable but here was this very vocal, very driven, bluesy but un-cliched, large flute sound drifting onto the streets.  I could feel instantly that his phrases were bold and exploratory but immediately honest at the most human level and, peeking in the door, I just hoped that I would get a chance to play with this guy.  I was lucky and we fell in big from interest in blues and the same sorts of jazz musicians.  I was real amazed to find that he knew Bloomfield and others and I think he thought it was cool that anyone knew about that stuff.  over the years I got to play with him in many of my own projects and many others.  What fun! And I was proud of the fact that he liked my guitar playing because he openly detested most guitarists work.

Hart was a good deal older than a lot of us playing with him at that time and there was a lot about our wilder drives and things that we weren't aware of that he helped us to understand.  His honesty about where he was at and where he had been at helped clarify a lot of things.  At the same time, he wasn't what would be called mellow.  His drives and personality were loaded with obsession, vibrancy, unquestioning compulsive pushes towards everything that he may have found that he had an urge for.  But mainly, he had a drive for beauty and I think it made his death a lot simpler than it could have been.

All of this and much more comes out in this honest but humor filled interview.  I'll leave it in one part. If you are interested in life, hang in until the end...

Hart Mcnee interview

- almost buying a gun twice; adventures in the army after attempting to dodge the draft, his sharpshooting abilities compared to Lee Harvey Oswald and the resulting suspicions; working with missiles and phobias entering into the picture; beginnings in music; getting a radio and being appalled by what the music of the day seemed to be; suddenly becoming aware of blues on the left hand side of the dial and wanting to be those artists; starting on tenor sax; how he got to be a professional musician; advice on how to get better in music; drugs and coming away from heroin addiction and drinking; cancer diagnosis and what's involved; whether phobias pass after being diagnosed with terminal disease; how he chose songs for his recordings; interest in Orixa songs, voodoo and involvements in ceremonies; the impact on his playing; the question of the healing power of music; his views of what happens after death; belief in the soul and the soul as a verb; what he would have done if he could've done it all over again; what would be the heaven of Hart's dreams.


Special thanks to Kate Mcnee and Henry Griffin for permission to post this one.

Follow up Interview with Piety St. Studios founder/engineer/producer/musician/composer, Mark Bingham

  Here is a second, concluding interview with a big contributor the current face of New Orleans music.  Mark is a good talker and pretty free with colorful stories about artists and the machine that keeps them "out there." This talk has quite a different flavor from the first interview.

Part 1- Initial move to New Orleans; meeting and doing work with WWOZ; acquiring studio gear for New Orleans; first studio recordings:John Cleary, Bunchy, Mike Ward, Amadee Castanell, John Mooney; how the Boiler Room came about; cheap acquisition of 2.25 inch tape machines; differences in recording spaces; who was recorded at the Boiler Room; Lump and Ben Ellman; Delfeayo Marsalis; Glenn Patscha, Johnny Vidacovich; What changed since the days of the Boiler Room; the other studios in New Orleans in the 90's; angry studio customers and mistaken blame; the kinds of work Mark has to do in the studio; why the Boiler Room folded.

Part 2- How Piety St Studios started; paradox of a successful studio starting in 2001;...still using analog; how the studio gained wide renown; Cash Money; Vida Blue; changes in musical styles since the Boiler Room- collage/mashup/jazz; Kidd Jordan; about offending people with music; Lukas Ligeti; bringing the spirit world in; John Swenson's book; transcending style; unspoken, secret language amongst musicians; changes in new orleans culture; the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival's problems with artist relations; the changes on Frenchmen St; the Williamsburg-ing of The Bywater; deep wishes; the rise of the cool St. Claude music scene- Allways Lounge; what he's currently interested in locally and what's going through the studio now; looking for a happy ending to the way things are in relation to recording now.

A conversation on the current New Orleans music scene between Mark Bingham, Helen Gillet, Michael Dominici, and Jonathan Freilich

WWOZ radio DJ, Michael Dominici had the idea to take some of what has been happening in these interviews and take it onto WWOZ during his radio show.  There were time constraints that didn't allow us, with our summer schedules, to do this live so we pre-recorded it on May 28th, 2011. Mark Bingham allowed us to do the interview at Piety St. Studios so we sat down for about an hour and discussed a few things pertaining to recording, time perception, thinking of music for now, anachronistic music, and observations on a few other musicians around the scene including Quintron, Ratty Scurvics, Clint Maedgen and others.  Other things were touched on too. The conversation ranges from light and humorous to a tinkering with quasi-meta-musico-profundums.

This will probably be quite edited for WWOZ radio broadcast so here is an opportunity to hear it in its entirety.  

Michael Dominici is a DJ, a very aware listener and New Orleans lover and culture observer.  Cellist,Helen Gillet has been an active professional musician around New Orleans for many years now. Mark Bingham is a renowned record producer, composer, engineer, song writer etc.  

Helen and Mark have both been individually interviewed for this series at an earlier time. Both are available from this site on the interviews page.

Without further ado, here is the conversation...

Interview with Jeff Albert, Trombonist and curator of the Open Ears Series. Parts 1&2

Jeff Albert is more than a musician.  Like a few others interviewed here he has contributed to the New Orleans music scene through the Tuesday Open Ears series at the Blue Nile.  The series allows an open forum for a wide variety of musical performance.  It is a rare night where one can witness any sort of musical exploration. Through improving the breadth of what is presented he has contributed to  the formation  of musical groups and associations of musicians that otherwise would not have a place to develop their playing and ideas.  It also brings in adventurous groups from outside New Orleans.  Jeff has developed his own expression and his self- understanding steadily over the years.  He has learned a great deal from his own associations with musicians and gigs and he shares a lot about those experiences here.  There is also interesting information about the trombone and electronic music.


Part 1- How the open ears series came about, what it is, whether it is still doing what he wants, what it's relationship is to the reconstruction after Hurricane Katrina; influences of Chicago improvising musicians and how he formed alliances with those musicians; improvisation itself, what the relation is to jazz; tradition and lineage in improvisational music; early biographical information -growing up in Lafayette; starting trombone in band class and the pros and cons of that level of music education.

Part 2- musical aspirations as a starting trombone student; becoming conscious of jazz music; decision to be a musician and go to Loyola University over University of North Texas; J.J. Johnson; Clint Maedgen, Coltrane Live in Japan; studies with Dick Erb; early rewarding professional gig experience in horn sections; Pedro Cruz and latin music scene experiences; the feeling of being a professional musician and enjoyment of the lifestyle; urge for self-expression bubbling to the surface; comfort with computers and meeting John Worthington, the computer guru; becoming aware of the greater relative power of emotional playing; UNO for a masters degree and improving composition; learning strengths and limitations.


More on Jeff and the Open Ears Music Series can be found at

Interview with Mark Bingham- studio engineer, musician, composer, sonic adventurer, studio owner and founder(Piety St. Studios)

 Mark Bingham talks in depth about some key times in his life in music.  A lot came to light in this interview and, although we have been friends for years, I learned a lot of pieces of information that made sense of some parts of his life and work that I didn't realize.

Mark's contribution to New Orleans's music scene starts back in 1982.  Most of this interview deals with stuff earlier than that.  Even though it's a long interview and has a lot of information, a lot was left out due to time limitation.  Mark is a real good anecdote dropper- very useful in this format and we may get into a 2nd interview to tackle more impressions of the diversity of artists he has worked with. 

Part 1 deals with early recording experiments in high school, discovery by the music business, electronic music, early approach to song writing, Los Angeles, university life in Indiana, and association with composer, Iannis Xenakis.

Part 2 continues on to describe being an A&R man at Elektra records, The Doors, Bruce Botnick, The Holy Modal Rounders, Peter Stampfel, Bulgarian music, the marketing of authenticity, initial perceptions of the New Orleans music scene, the move to New York after LA.

Part 3- The New York scene in the early 70's, more in depth about Peter Stampfel, the creative impact of speed, commissions for dance companies, funding, drum machines, "crazy art bullshit", getting sick of NYC.

Part 4- The actual "secret" training to be a producer in LA, "technical" recording versus responding to the situation at hand, what makes a good studio, New Orleans musical myopia, encountering racial division in New Orleans music, Allison Miner, working for Rounder records, reinforcement of bogus New Orleans mythologies, brass bands and the growth of the players in them, why people are interested in Piety St studios, producing now, current ideas, difference between recordings of the past and present, what stands out.

Recorded May 24, 2011 in the dining area at Piety St. Studios.

Interview with Brian Coogan.

Keyboardist, Brian Coogan, took some time for an interview on the day of the Chazfestival.  The interview is in 3 parts.


  1. Here he talks about sitting in with Aurora and Walt at Chazfestival, songwriting and   its relation or distinctness from jazz, being an audience at Chazfestival, and comparisons with the Jazz and Heritage Festival.
  2. Here Coogan talks about Chazfestival in relation to artistic freedom, comparisons between New Orleans and New York, musician identity, relationship of songwriting to his viewpoints, funky dance music, his new band- The Brian Coogan Band.
  3. This section deals with dance music, Brian's background, the music he came up listening to, carting around Hammond organs and their role in New Orleans music, the ironies of nostalgia and musical  anachronisms in New Orleans music, modernity in music